Cutter's Camp in the East and West Explore Everything Terrain Park
Cutter's Camp at Timberline, Mt. Hood, wrapped up last week, May 12-16, and celebrated its 12th year for this gathering. The shorter eastern Cutter's Camp took place last month, April 4-6, at Mount Snow, Vt. Between the two camps, over 85 resorts from across the continent (and a few from overseas) gathered with one thing in common—a passion to ensure that resorts both big and small run safe and successful parks.
Cutter's Camp East and West Photo Gallery:<!-- START EMBED CODE -->
Both camps kicked off with a fireside chat with legends in the industry. In the East, Jason Levinthal, founder of Line skis and the twin tip revolution back in the 90s, shared with campers how the industry has come full circle and what we can learn from our history to better our future. And in the West, 20-plus-year veteran Pat Bridges of Snowboarder Magazine spoke about the history of our sport and its future as told through the last 12 years of Super Park.
The next day of the western camp began with a session that addressed the wide variety of resorts represented in the room--from small 250-foot vertical resorts to 11,000-foot resorts. "3 Parks, 3 Case Studies" was presented by Clayton Shoemaker from Bear Mountain, Calif.; Kevin Laverty from Keystone, Colo.; and Elia Hamilton of Peak Resorts. Each industry leader shared details about their park programs and how they achieved success whether dealing with challenging weather conditions, limited resources or, on the other side, how to plan, budget and prepare for a large park program.
Mark Petrozzi from AlpenRisk and Jay Scambio from Boyne Resorts, who work on the Freestyle Terrain Notebook, gave campers an update on the notebook and what the new sections will address, how to implement them and when the information will be available. Petrozzi's presentation was followed by a mini mock trial organized by Mistica Walker of Wells Fargo and co-presented with Jimmy Lawrence and Tom Baffa of Wilis, Mark Petrozzi and ASDA attorneys Brad Stanford and Kimbery McGair. In the dynamic format, campers got to role-play as defendants, plaintiffs and members of the jury. One camper from a large resort group said, "The mini mock trial made issues real and relatable to what we do in our jobs so it was a real eye-opener."
Risk, liability and safety procedures were also addressed in several break-out discussions called PODs on the first day of camp. Other POD topics included: Man-made Features, Feature Construction, Communication (guest and staff), Snow Science and Snowmaking in the Park, Planning Your Park, Daily Maintenance Procedures and Event, Marketing and Social Media, which was headed up by Pat Bridges of Snowboarder Magazine and Ricky Hower of Timberline.
The day ended with a discussion on terrain park data collected by SAM Magazine (from Cutter's Camp attendees) and SPT (Snow Park Technologies) resort clients. Mike Beterra and Josh Chauvet from SPT and Elia Hamilton of Peak Resorts presented a snapshot of the averages for number of features, sizes of features to resort size, park acreage to total acreage, day crew to features, total grooming crew and more. The data provides a benchmark for each resort to compare themselves against. Data will continue to be collected by SAM and SPT and will be shared in the November terrain park issue.
Other sessions included the popular Terrain Park Managers Roundtable, moderated by Snowshoe's Ken Gaitor. In addition, a technology trends discussion including a Google Sketch-Up lesson with Caleb Hamilton and Senan Gorman, demonstrated the planning (and math) behind great parks. A cat maintenance workshop, co-presented by Prinoth and PistenBully, gave campers an overview of how to get the most from their machines. And, finally, a two-part session on the Business of Progression with Chris Hargrave, and Joe and Pat Hession tackled the all-important beginner experience. An indoor and on-hill discussion surrounding the importance of attracting never-evers to our mountains through learning terrain and how to build and maintain it was a hot topic for campers who are eager to be a part of the future growth of the industry.
The on-hill build, only offered at the Timberline, Mt Hood, camp, included an on-hill station matrix that rotated campers through stations including: 18-foot Zaugg; 13-foot Zaugg; medium jumps, small jumps; progression features; dozing 101; rail island; and photo finish feature.
One highlight of the camp experience is engaging with others at meals, on-hill and in the classroom. Each day also finishes with fun activities hosted by sponsors. Prinoth hosted the trip to Windells and the annual Dodgeball Tournament. PistenBully hosted the second annual mini snowmobile/motocross races. Burton sponsored the opening night party, Destoy hosted the final night awards dinner and KAB Rails, HKD Snowmakers, Blackstrap and ParkDiggers all hosted lunches and shared their expertise in the PODs.
One camper summed up what has been the experience of many at Cutter's Camps over the years, "The camp was invaluable in gaining information to improve myself as an operator and manager and, in turn, help improve my mountain. It's great to be able to communicate with the best in the industry and compare notes with areas large and small and get our industry on the same page to make our parks the best and safest they can be."